Haroldo Dilla Alfonso
HAVANA TIMES — At the end of July, the 8th Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba was held in the Dominican Republic, according to the press there were 370 delegates from around 20 different countries. Even though the event dealt with different subjects, the main focus was solidarity with Cuba in the face of a forever reawakened “imperialist danger” which lives on in the continued blockade/embargo and in maintaining the US military base in Guantanamo.
This kind of event is normal in all of the international paraphernalia of the political hallmark that is the Cuban Revolution. And when it was still in fact a revolution which implied significant social advances and US hostility was a military fact, these events were attended by a strong audience who sincerely believed in national independence as a great value. Today, they have been reduced to nothing, only attracting the nostalgic phalanx of that time.
I believe that celebrating this event in the Dominican Republic had the double meaning of attracting an audience (who wouldn’t enjoy a visit to the island where it all began?) and enjoy the support from left-wingers in retreat who feed off of the Dominican Liberation Party’s budget. While they applaud an imaginary continental revolution which clashes with the real situation of xenophobia, homophobia, social insensitivity and corruption which defines that party’s administration, which was once a source of hope and is today nothing but frustration.
However, not all of those who attended the meeting were opportunists of the lowest kind. In photos and comments, I listened to and saw people who had dedicated their lives to the struggle for democracy in the Dominican Republic, and who know Cuba well enough to know why it stinks so bad in Denmark. A lot of them still do this with bravery, unphased. And I believe this disables them in a moral sense.
I ask myself, is it reasonable that honest and decent people get involved in publicity shows? Of course, I don’t think it is, and for two reasons:
The first thing is that ever since December 2014, the US government reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba. Meanwhile, it also broadened a number of prerogatives of contacts, due to presidential powers. The US hasn’t done more because the Cuban government hasn’t given the slightest sign that they will reduce their domestic political costs for thawing their relations; because lifting the trade embargo/economic blockade is a legislative issue that can’t be resolved by a president with a hostile Congress. The other issue hanging in the air is that of the military base in Guantanamo which just has to be negotiated, which the Cuban government hasn’t really shown a significant interest in, because what they’re really interested in is that the base remains there.
Of course the presence of a superpower only 200 km away from a small island is always a cause for tension. That’s how prerevolutionary Republican politicians understood it to be, for example. However, does this imply activist solidarity?
Of course not. Because the support that is being exhibited at these advertising shows, like the one that took place in Santo Domingo, is exclusively with the Cuban government. And this is what everyone legitimizes who lends their standing and name.
They are supporting a government that has been unable to fulfill its duties with the least bit of efficiency so as to allow Cuba’s economy to grow. It knows only how to operate by relying on heavy subsidies, once Soviet and then Venezuelan, converting our nation into something dependent and fragile. This is why the Cuban economy is a disaster, not because of the economic blockade on the country, where people earn a few dollars a month on the average in an economy where prices are increasingly becoming dollarized. This is a government that has made widespread poverty the reason for its power.
It’s showing solidarity with a repressive government which prevents Cubans from exercising their basic civil and political rights, accessing the internet in conditions of real access, protesting freely, occupying public and media spaces so as to voice their opinions and criticism which consequently stops them from being able to peacefully oppose and try to change the government. People who try to do so are repressed, put into jail, beaten and intimidated. At the time of the meeting, some of these people were carrying out hunger strikes, on the brink of death. All they were asking for was that repression ends.
It’s showing solidarity with a political elite who in the name of a revolution, which ended a long time ago, and in the name of socialism, which never existed, is accumulating capital and becoming the new bourgeousie. They control the best private businesses, go to the Mediterranean with their luxury yachts and create ties with foreign investment while ordinary Cubans live in miserable conditions, in their day to day struggle with little hope for the future.
Finally, it’s showing solidarity with a government who has driven 20% of its population outside of its national borders. This is a government that argues that this is due to a US incentive that Cuban leave the country, however this is a lie: Cubans emigrate in a different ways because they don’t have the chance to improve their lives in Cuba. Thousands of Cubans find themselves stranded in Central and South America completely neglected. These emigres then have their remittances end up in government coffers while being charged outrageous prices for consulate services, which at the same time deny them their rights. The Cuban government, which is who participants at this continental meeting are standing in solidarity with, has created the greatest expropriation of civil rights in the history of Latin America.
Of course, everybody has the right to have their own political preferences. Even to support a repressive, cynical and authoritarian government like the Cuban one is. However, nobody has the right to talk about this government in the name of democracy, justice or a better future. Cuba is a disjointed and harmful past. Solidarity with the Cuban government is to fight 100% against decency.